NASA's Juno Spacecraft Just Spotted A "Dragon's Eye" On Jupiter

Looking good, Jupiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

Well Jupiter fans, it’s been a while. But you’ll be glad to hear that we’ve finally got another image from the Juno spacecraft for you to enjoy, and it’s a beauty.

The image above, revealed in full below, was captured by the spacecraft on October 29, 2018. It was taken during the spacecraft’s 16th close flyby of the planet, on its continuing mission to tell us more about what this gas giant is made of.

Taken from a distance of 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles), the image shows clouds swirling in Jupiter’s North-North Temperate Belt (NNTB). An anti-cyclonic storm known as a white oval is clearly visible in the top left, which NASA referred to as a “dragon’s eye” on Twitter, while elsewhere there are various “pop-up” clouds swirling in the planet’s atmosphere.

While the image was taken by the Juno spacecraft, it has actually been processed by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran to bring out its key features. Those two are responsible for a lot of the beautiful images we’ve been seeing from the Juno mission.

Here’s the glorious image in all its beauty.

The "eye" is towards the top. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

But if this image hasn’t quite satisfied your need to see new pictures of Jupiter, you’re in luck. Because on Twitter, Doran shared some images of a bizarrely dolphin-like feature making its way through the clouds of Jupiter. Weird.

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Juno’s mission at Jupiter was recently extended, meaning it’ll remain in orbit until at least 2021. It’s the furthest probe from Earth to run on solar power alone, but also has to cope with the intense radiation of Jupiter – meaning it completes a wide orbit every 53 days, taking it far from the planet’s radiation before swooping in again.

The mission is ticking along nicely, and based on these images, we’ve got plenty more to look forward to in the future.

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